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Why are characters banned in tournament play for DotA-likes?

Has Riot provided any reasoning behind this game play feature? I'm curious to learn more about it. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, and I imagine it has something to do with both providing a catch all so that "overpowered" champions can be held at bay without having to produce a game patch, as well as added strategy in higher levels of LoL gameplay where you know the players and what champions they're good with. Is it to force people to learn more champions before they enter ranked?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • 1
    I believe that's precisely it: they're OP, so they ban 'em. According to a post in this thread, the reason they're not nerfed is possibly because, while they're OP, they're also hard to win with, having only about a 50% win rate each. "Shen:48% Alistar:45% Malph:50% Blitz:51% Morg:49%"
    – KBKarma
    Nov 2, 2012 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


One of the major reason for bans is to counter champions perceived as overpowered. But the bans aren't there just because Riot is too lazy to fix the champs in a patch. The main issue is that different champions can be OP in different situations, and the ban system allows players to get rid of OP champs for their specific situation.

The biggest example of this is play at different ELOs. Some champions are MUCH more effective at low ELO than high ELO (or vice versa). The classic example of this from years past was Master Yi. Yi can be exceptionally strong if teams don't CC and focus him. Since teams rarely focus well at low ELO, he was very strong there. But he was terrible at high ELO because those players generally know how to target and eliminate a squishy carry.

In cases like this, a ban system allows low ELO players to get rid of champs like Master Yi without Riot making him even weaker at high ELO. If Riot had to nerf him to just fix low ELO play, Yi would be worse than trash at high ELO.

In more competitive play there are additional reasons for bans beyond champs simply being OP. If you know your opponents, you might ban out their favorite champs. Alternatively, if you know that one of your teammates is going to play a certain champion, you might ban out hard counters to that champion. This especially happens in solo lanes - if your team really wants a certain champ top or mid, they might often ban their hard counters.

  • What OP, ELO, CC stands for?
    – Nam G VU
    Mar 6, 2016 at 3:23

You're able to ban champs in Legaue of Legends, because DotA (to which League is the spiritual successor) allowed you to.

But I doubt that's the answer you were hoping for.

In so-called "Draft Pick", you cannot have the same champion on each team. They are exclusive - if Team A picks Shen, Team B can not pick Shen, and vice versa. Bans work similarly, in that, once banned, neither team can play the champion.

Banning is not necessarily due to the strength of the champion; you also have to consider how well that champion is actually played. Put another way, a strong champion played by a poor player is not strong, and an average champion played by a superb player might prove unstoppable. Banning invariably represents a strategic decision on behalf of the team captain, especially in the high-level tournaments where the pro players are relatively well-known.

For instance, George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis is well-known for playing Nidalee. Teams playing against Counter Logic Gaming may wish to ban Nidalee, not because she's overpowered, but because she's overpowered when played by HotshotGG.

The goal is not to prevent Nidalee from being used in the game - the goal is to prevent HotshotGG from playing Nidalee. Selecting the champion you don't want the enemy to use is one way to do this, but if no one on your team plays the champ as well as your opponent (such that picking the champ for your team would be a liability), the other way to prevent that champion from being used is via banning.

Tactically banning (or beating them to pick) contested champions can force teams to shake up their roster, by either playing inferior compositions, or less-familiar champions, both of which grant the banning team an advantage.

  • 1
    Your initial explanation isn't really plausible. IIRC there were quite a few months where there was no ranked, so you didn't even have bans even though they were clearly in DotA. Bans were added because they are a good idea, not because Riot blindly copied DotA.
    – KAI
    Nov 2, 2012 at 18:53
  • @KAI Ranked was delayed because they had yet to add in bans. There was no ranked without draft pick (and bans). Nov 2, 2012 at 18:55
  • Yes, that's my point. There was a long period of play where there were no bans, so it clearly wasn't something that Riot just blindly copied from DotA.
    – KAI
    Nov 2, 2012 at 19:07
  • @KAI But bans only happen in ranked play (or Draft mode). Draft mode was added when ranked play was first made available. It wasn't "blind copying", it was an intentional decision on the part of the devs. Nov 2, 2012 at 19:13
  • Yes, I'm aware that it was a decision that the devs made. And I know in what modes bans happen. I'm saying that this doesn't have anything to do with DotA. You said that bans exist in LoL because they exist in DotA. If this was true, they would have existed right away in LoL. I'm saying that they exist in LoL because there is a need for them to exist in LoL. This reason has nothing to do with DotA.
    – KAI
    Nov 2, 2012 at 19:16

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